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(1,164 words)

Author(s): Höpken, Wolfgang
Bulgaria In the Balkan Wars of 1912–1913 Bulgaria had not been able to fulfill its hopes of creating an “ethnographic” Bulgaria that would include Macedonia, parts of Thrace and the Dobrudja. In the 1913 Treaty of Bucharest it was moreover forced to concede to its neighbors practically all the territory it had captured in the First Balkan War of 1912. The outbreak of the First World War seemed to offer a new opportunity for the military realization of a “Greater Bulgaria,” a dream pursued since t…

Princip, Gavrilo

(382 words)

Author(s): Höpken, Wolfgang
Princip, Gavrilo ( July 13, 1894, Grahovo, Bosnia – April 28, 1918, Theresienstadt), Bosnian Serbian student and assassin. As a high school student in Sarajevo, Princip first came in into contact with the Mlada Bosna (Young Bosnia) movement in 1911. The Young Bosnia movement fought against Austro-Hungarian rule in Bosnia. In 1912 Princip was expelled from school for taking part in anti-Austrian demonstrations, and was obliged to continue his schooling in Belgrade. The assassin Bogdan Žerajíc, who murdered the provincial prime minister Marijan Varešanin in 1910 in protest against the annexation of Bosnia and then took his own life, became a model for Princip. So in March 1914, at the age of 19, Princip and other radical Serbs living in Belgrade decided to murder Franz Ferdinand, the heir to the Austrian throne. They wanted to do this during a visit of the Archduke to Sarajevo to inspect the army. Franz Ferdinand carried out the inspection as planned on 28 June on St Vitus’ Day (Vidovdan), the anniversary of the 1389 Serb defeat by the Ottoman tro…

Ferdinand I, Tsar of Bulgaria

(451 words)

Author(s): Höpken, Wolfgang
Ferdinand I, Tsar of Bulgaria (February 26, 1861, Vienna – September 10, 1948, Coburg) Ferdinand, from the house of Sachsen-Coburg-Koháry, was elected Prince of Bulgaria against the bitter resistance of Russia, and to the discontent of Bismarck, in 1887. He became the tsar in the context of a national and constitutional crisis triggered by the abdication of Prince Alexander of Battenberg that was compelled by Russia in 1886. However, his influence, both internally and externally, was initially slight…

Ferdinand I, King of Romania

(366 words)

Author(s): Höpken, Wolfgang
Ferdinand I, King of Romania (August 24, 1865, Sigmaringen – July 20, 1927, Sinaia), king of Romania from 1914. Ferdinand, from the house of Hohenzollern-Sigmaringen, became heir to the Romanian throne upon his adoption by the childless King Carol I. Until the death of his adoptive father in October 1914, Ferdinand pursued a military career that culminated in leading Romania’s army in the Balkans War of 1913. He gained little in political status by his assumption of the throne, as, especially in foreign policy, he essentially followed his politically dominant Prime Minister Ionel Brătianu. Despite his German descent, in August 1916 Ferdinand supported the decision for Romania to enter the war on the side of the Entente Powers. After a crushing defeat in late 1916 that led to the occupation of most of Romania, and, in May 1918, forced the country to accept a peace treaty with the Central Powers, Romania nevertheless eventually ended the war on the side of the victors. Thus, Ferdinand could after all celebrate the triumph of achieving the union of all the Romanians as their king. After the Paris treaties had promised Transylvania, Bukovina, Bessarabia, and Dobrudja to Romania, on October 15 1922 Ferdinand had himself crowned King of all the Romanians in a second coronation in Transylvanian city of Alba Iulia (Karlsburg). His most significant actions after the war included the introduction of agrarian reform, which had been promised during the conflict, and the abolition of the unequal census-based suffrage system. In other respects, however, his political role remained restricted and influenced by the ideas of Brătianu. It was under pressure from the latter that, in 1926, Ferdinand established his …

Petar I Karadjordjević, King of Serbia

(387 words)

Author(s): Höpken, Wolfgang
Petar I Karadjordjević, King of Serbia ( July 11, 1844, Belgrade – August 16, 1921, Belgrade), Serbian king (from 1903), from 1918 king of the newly emerged Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenes. A grandson of Karadjordje Petrović, the legendary leader of the Serbian risings of 1804 to 1813, Petar spent the period of his civilian and military education in Switzerland and France after the fall of his father Prince Aleksandar Karadjordjević in 1858. Despite Russian support and links to opponents of…

Averescu, Alexandru

(351 words)

Author(s): Höpken, Wolfgang
Averescu, Alexandru (April 9, 1859, Izmail – October 3, 1938, Bucharest), Romanian field marshal and politician. Averescu’s military career began in 1877 and led him to join the General Staff of the Romanian Army in 1888. As chief of the General Staff during the Second Balkan War, Averescu acquired a considerable military reputation and a far-reaching popularity within Romanian society. Following Romania’s entry into the First World War in 1916, the army was forced to suffer a series of defeats, culminating in the capture of Bucharest by the Central Powers on December 6, 1916, which brought the country to the brink of surrender. In July–August of 1917 Averescu was able to halt the German and Austrian offensive in Moldavia at Mărăşti and Mărăşeşti, thus averting the impending capitulation. After the end of the war Averescu sought to gain political capital from his almost legendary fame as the “Hero of Mărăşti.” Having already served as war minister from 1907 to 1909, and briefly as prime minister in 1918, Averescu was named head of government by King Ferdinand I in March of 1920. His election victory on that occasion was based on his own personal popularity and the support of the People’s League (Liga Poporului), a party founded by Averescu himself. However, faced with the difficult economic burden of the war and the task of implementing an urgently needed but politically controversial agrarian reform, he had to resign in December of 1921. Averescu’s downfall was above all due to the opposition put up not …

Carol I, King of Romania

(296 words)

Author(s): Höpken, Wolfgang
Carol I, King of Romania (April 20, 1839, Sigmaringen – October 10, 1914, Peleş Castle near Sinaia), born Karl Eitel Friedrich Zephyrin of Hohenzollern, Prince of Romania (1866–1881), from 1881 King of Romania. After Alexandru Cuza, the first ruler of the Romanian state created from the united principalities of Wallachia and Moldavia, was deposed in April 1866, the Romanian Parliament elected Carol, a membe…


(1,185 words)

Author(s): Höpken, Wolfgang
Albania Compared to other ethnic groups in the Balkan region the Albanians were relatively late to develop national aspirations of their own. Religious divisions within the population, the lack of a unified social stratum that would support a “modern” national movement, and the traditional, deeply fractured structure of Albanian society with its regional and clan affiliations delayed the creation of a politically organized movement of national rebirth ( Rilindja), which only emerged in the last quarter of the 19th century. When the peace negotiations after the Russo-Turkish War threatened to lead to the partitioning of Albanian-settled territories among the neighboring states of Serbia and Montenegro, the “Albanian League” was formed in June of 1878 (also called the League of Prizren, where it was founded). One objective was to maintain the territorial integrity of Albanian-inhabited lands by trying to influence the Great Powers, who in pursuin…


(1,553 words)

Author(s): Höpken, Wolfgang
Romania Having come into being in 1859 in the union of the two Danube principalities of Moldavia and Wallachia, Romania endeavored to remain aloof from the great diplomatic crises and military upheavals that gripped the Balkans from the end of the 19th century. The country accordingly did not participate in the Balkan League comprising Serbia, Greece, Bulgaria, and Montenegro, which declared war on the Ottoman Empire in 1912. However, when Bulgaria’s success in the Balkan War of 1912 appeare…